printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

L'Aquila Food Security Initiative Final Report 2012: Final Report

Office of Global Food Security
December 5, 2012



At the 2009 G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, leaders recognized that “the combined effect of long-standing under-investment in agriculture and food security, price trends, and the economic crisis have led to increased hunger and poverty in developing countries, . . . jeopardizing the progress achieved so far in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.” Consequently, they launched the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI), determining to “act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security.”[1] The G-8 and other AFSI donors collectively pledged more than USD 22 billion over the ensuing three years toward this goal. AFSI has helped to catalyze a continuing global focus on food and nutrition security.

AFSI investments follow the five Rome Principles of Sustainable Food Security[2] laid out by 193 countries at the FAO-WFP-IFAD-hosted Summit later that same year, to: 1) invest in country-owned plans; 2) foster strategic coordination at national, regional and global levels; 3) strive for a comprehensive, twin-track approach to food security that consists of: a) direct action to immediately tackle hunger for the most vulnerable and b) medium and long-term sustainable agricultural, food security, nutrition and rural development programs; 4) ensure a strong role for the multilateral system; and 5) ensure sustained and substantial commitment by all partners to investment in agriculture and food security and nutrition.

The 2011 Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness reaffirmed our respective commitments to scale-up development co-operation through – similar to the Rome Principles – ownership of development priorities by the developing countries themselves, a focus on results, inclusive development of partnerships, and transparency and accountability.

This report summarizes the work of AFSI members toward meeting their financial pledges and non-financial commitments over the 2010 – 2012 period.

From pledge to disbursement

Funds pledged at L’Aquila have contributed to real growth in donor support for food and nutrition security. As shown in the AFSI Pledge Tracking Table[3], AFSI donors have fully committed their pledges, representing, in the aggregate, 106 percent of the total pledge (many donors regarded their pledge as a minimum level). Thus, the AFSI donors have collectively not only fully committed but gone beyond the original $22.24 billion pledge.

Since AFSI was launched, some AFSI members and non- governmental organizations have suggested that funds disbursed by AFSI donors—not funds committed—is the better measure of whether or not donors are meeting their financial pledges (note that some countries made their pledges on a commitment basis). Actual spending (i.e. disbursements) of AFSI pledges has continued to improve, with a significant jump since the 2012 Camp David G8 Summit. To date[3], AFSI donors have disbursed 67 percent of the total pledge, with Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom at full disbursement.

The varying speed of disbursement by AFSI members reflects differences in institutional requirements and approaches to program financing, which can slow disbursements. Additionally, in following through on their AFSI pledges, members are investing in a broad set of countries, each with their own diverse circumstances and readiness in putting forward a technically-sound and comprehensive national agriculture and food security investment plan, developed through an inclusive, multi-stakeholder process. These differing circumstances and states of readiness have also, in some cases, resulted in slower disbursements.

All in all, and compared to other pledges (e.g., Gleneagles or the Kanaskis Maternal, Child and Newborn Health), AFSI donors are well-positioned in delivering the L’Aquila pledge, which is fully committed, with disbursements well on track. 

AFSI Managing for Development Results Study: Findings and Lessons Learned

• In all the case study countries, the processes and mechanisms necessary for using MfDR in the planning and implementation of agricultural and rural development and food security (ARD&FS) strategies and programs, such as monitoring frameworks and sector working groups, are largely in place. Progress on implementing the Paris Declaration principles in the case study countries prior to the L’Aquila initiative in 2009, means that AFSI’s specific contribution to the establishment of these processes and mechanisms was difficult to isolate. Although the basic architecture for MfDR in ARD&FS is largely in place, the evidence that it has already resulted in results-driven changes in programs and priorities to improve outcomes is unclear. The nature and variation in the ARD&FS results seen across the countries demonstrate that further efforts to strengthen the use of MfDR would be beneficial. A major challenge faced with MfDR in the countries lies with institutional coordination, which is characterized by the ministries of agriculture’s weak inter-agency coordination and capacity.

• All the case study countries have made significant achievements in several areas, including rapid food production and significant progress towards poverty reduction and child malnutrition and undernourishment. Progress seems relatively lower in Senegal, where the pace of poverty reduction has slowed in recent years and the hunger situation is still regarded as being “serious,” while the prevalence of undernourishment remains relatively high.

• AFSI can be expected to contribute to the positive trends into the future to the extent it demonstrates added value to existing financial and non-financial ODA to implementing countries’ ARD& FS investment plans and programs.

• Overall, limited data availability, time lags, and the complexity of attributing impacts to inputs make it challenging for a global initiative like AFSI to report on results. Solid, in-country evidence is necessary for assessing achievements. National monitoring systems and in-country MfDR processes are therefore essential for future M&E efforts and need to be strengthened.

Activities and support in partner countries

In 2012, AFSI donors extended reporting beyond what was reported in 2010 and 2011, to include country level information on each donor’s AFSI investments in agricultural development, and food and nutrition security. AFSI donors reported on investments in a subset of developing countries that represent a substantial portion of each donor’s investments in food security.[4] This information, presented in in-depth tables[5], can inform coordination efforts, helping to more fully describe the financial and programmatic landscape in partner countries and across sectors. AFSI donors believe that making these tables publicly-available is a meaningful step toward increasing accountability and the transparency of G-8 commitments. The in-depth tables identify many of the partner countries in which AFSI donors are investing and provide details about the amount of AFSI assistance, programs implemented, intended objectives, systems for managing investments and programs and reporting results, progress to-date and evidence that investments and programs support commitments to the Rome Principles. While AFSI countries are still in the process of collecting results data for their programs on the ground, this report[6] summarizes preliminary findings on where and how donors are meeting their pledges.

Managing for Development Results

The Paris, Accra, and Busan High-Level Fora on Aid Effectiveness have urged the utilization of an MfDR model in development agendas: a management strategy that focuses on using performance information to improve decision- making, and utilizing practical tools for strategic planning, risk management, progress monitoring and outcome evaluation. MfDR also encompasses a range of principles, including country ownership, alignment of donors and accountability for development results, which are all supported by AFSI. At the September 2011 AFSI meeting in Dakar, Senegal, AFSI members agreed to “collectively demonstrate, by means of examples in some partner countries on a voluntary basis, that the provided resources are managed for results and that the fulfillment of financial and non-financial commitments leads to actual results on the ground.” In February 2012, the MfDR Working Group, chaired by Germany, held a joint workshop with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to develop a framework for analysis of MfDR and reporting on initial results. Under the framework, four case studies (Bangladesh, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal) explored AFSI’s efforts and the countries’ MfDR processes. 

Overall, the study concludes that AFSI, as well as other initiatives taking on MfDR approaches, is an important initiative in combating low agricultural productivity, chronic hunger, and pervasive undernutrition. Because these are efforts that target mid-term to long-term changes, rather than relying on short-term interventions, it is important that they stay the course in terms of providing (and documenting) additional financial and non-financial resources, while integrating them well with other existing or new development initiatives.

It is still early to assess the impact of AFSI, but laying a solid foundation, including providing resources for rigorous monitoring and evaluation studies, will be critical.

AFSI Support for Research and Innovation

The exercise undertaken by the AFSI AR4D Working Group suggests that the following issues need to be addressed in order to improve the transparency of AR4D investments:

• Greater clarity and consensus on OECD/DAC definitions and country reporting guidelines for agricultural research, policy support, extension and education (OECD/DAC CRS codes 31182, 31110, 31166 and 31181, respectively) would improve the ability of donors to report and assess how and where resources are being invested using existing reporting systems. These issues could be discussed in the DAC Working Party on Statistics.

• Comprehensive assessments of agricultural science and technology investments by developing countries are critical to ensure donor investments complement existing systems and support national food security priorities of developing countries. This can be accomplished most effectively through strengthening support for the GCARD process and the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative.

• The agricultural research working group of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development can facilitate an information exchange on donor agricultural research priority setting processes and a dialogue on approaches for examining aid effectiveness. Continued engagement among donors and other stakeholders is critical to ensuring complementarity of investments and sharing of best practices and lessons learned.

• Given the significance of the CGIAR investments in AR4D, and the strong donor support for the CGIAR, the CG system should be fully engaged in ongoing discussions of prioritization, transparency and accountability of AR4D investments. This function should continue to be facilitated by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR).

• Given the importance of global food and nutrition security, the private investors, partner countries and the G8 and donor community should assess how to better support investment in agricultural research to meet the challenge of doubling production by 2050. Further, these investments must be strategically allocated to ensure the greatest and broadest benefit from these resources. 

At L’Aquila, we agreed that “investment in and access to education, research, science and technologies should be substantially strengthened at national, regional and international level.”

Continued innovation is needed to increase agricultural productivity, improve nutritional outcomes, and achieve global food security. Innovation is driven, above all, by investments in research and development and technology dissemination. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of agricultural research investments. A meta- analysis[7] of these studies showed that agricultural research investments yield a 40% rate of return, higher than any other development investment.

At its meeting in February 2012, the AFSI group agreed that greater transparency for spending on agricultural research for development (AR4D) would improve the ability to monitor progress on the L’Aquila commitment and contribute significantly to aid effectiveness, including the alignment of AR4D investments with priorities identified in national agricultural investment plans. AFSI formed a working group charged with providing up-to-date information on AR4D investments as a component of the overall L’Aquila financial commitments for the period 2009- 2011.

The working group collected data on funding disbursements for agricultural research covered by OECD/DAC CRS code 31182 for the years 2009-2011. Two thirds of the countries reporting had high fidelity between annual reports to the OECD/DAC and data reported for this exercise.

While the data remain incomplete, in aggregate, they do suggest an upward trend in funding over the three year period. While this bodes well for tracking research investments, the exercise revealed some problems with the accuracy, timeliness and comparability of data reported to the OECD/DAC. The differences in ways donors report their investments across agricultural research, education and extension illuminate the difficulty of using this information to identify gaps in research or assessing the aid effectiveness of research investments.

AFSI Commitments to the Rome Principles 

The AFSI in-depth tables allow for greater transparency into the progress made by AFSI donors against their AFSI non- financial commitments, essentially, the Rome Principles.

Country-owned Development

The in-depth tables suggest that AFSI donors are making progress toward their commitment to support country- owned plans, in that, in general, they are aligning their bilateral funding and programs with partner countries’ own national plans.

Despite increased financing for agriculture from national budgets in some CAADP countries and from development partners, and ongoing efforts to align official development assistance with country-owned plans, national agriculture and food security plans are underfunded. For national agriculture and food security plans to be fully-funded and implemented, not only must developing countries and development partners continue their efforts to align public investments against these plans, but they must do a great deal more to encourage public-private partnership and private-sector investment around the outlined development priorities. By some definitions, “country-owned” characterizes plans that incorporate input from stakeholders other than partner governments and donors, such as the private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations, farmer cooperatives, and other citizens’ groups. Indeed, if agricultural development is to be sustainable and successful, program planning and implementation must extend beyond government institutions to include these key stakeholders. 


Country-owned Development

• provide resources – whether financial, in-kind or technical assistance – in support of CAADP and other similar regional and national plans

• increase involvement of civil society and private sector

Strategic Coordination

• provide sustained and predictable funding and increased targeted investments

• provide sufficient, more predictable and flexible resources for emergency assistance

Comprehensive Approach

• strengthen agricultural value chains, increase agriculture productivity, stimulate pre- and post-harvest actions, prioritize nutrition, support natural resource management, expand employment opportunities, knowledge and training, increase trade flows, and support good governance and policy reform

• emphasize private sector growth, smallholders, families and women, and access to land, markets, and financial services, including microfinance

• reduce trade distortions and refrain from raising new barriers to trade and investment

• strengthen investment in and access to education, research, science and technologies

• support risk management instruments and social protection mechanisms such as safety nets and social policies for the most vulnerable

Engage Multilaterally

• use of multilateral institutions whenever appropriate

• support reform of FAO, CFS, CGIAR, and GFAR

Accountability and Transparency

• timely and reliable delivery on commitments

• increase aid to agriculture and food security including through multiyear resource commitments

For that reason, and building on the progress made by the AFSI group since 2009, the G-8 and partners launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (New Alliance) in 2012. The New Alliance is a shared commitment to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people in Africa out of poverty over the next 10 years. It aims to do this by aligning: the commitments of Africa’s leadership to drive effective country plans and policies for food security; the commitments of local and international private sector partners at all scales to increase investments where the conditions are right; and the commitments of G-8 and other donors to expand Africa’s potential for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth. To date[3], 76 private sector companies—most of them African—have pledged over $3 billion in support of this effort.

Civil society organizations are also crucial to AFSI’s and the global development community’s success in food and nutrition security and agricultural development, for their expertise in developing local capacity and leadership, their innovations in the field, and the resources they can leverage. On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September, InterAction, an alliance of 198 U.S.-based civil society organizations, pledged more than $1 billion in private, non- government funding over the next three years to improve food security and nutrition worldwide.

Strategic Coordination

The in-depth tables suggest that AFSI donors are making progress in coordinating their investments and programs in partner countries. In addition to meeting with AFSI partners and various working groups throughout the year, almost all AFSI donors are participating in country-led, donor- coordination working groups. However, without an agreed means for measuring impact from increased coordination, it is difficult to determine how increased donor participation in these working groups at the country level is enhancing the impact of programs under national agriculture plans. The CAADP M&E mechanisms may reveal more data on this impact in those countries.

The in-depth tables reveal the large number and geographic diversity of countries benefiting from AFSI investments. AFSI donor investments reported in the in-depth tables are spread across over 40 partner countries. Going forward, it is important that AFSI members continue to strengthen coordination around support of national agriculture and food security plans in countries where multiple donors are active, with due consideration to leveraging regional progress through actions in neighboring countries.

A Comprehensive Approach

The in-depth tables suggest that donors are taking a more comprehensive approach to improving food security by providing funding that complements direct investments in agricultural development and nutrition, and that meets short- and long-term food security needs. The information available in these tables allows the opportunity to explore whether the collective approach of AFSI partners in any one partner country meets the Rome Principles of alignment with country plans, strategic coordination and adoption of comprehensive approaches. There are many examples where AFSI investments are working together across a range of sectors and are aligned with priorities outlined in national agriculture and food security plans. We list a few here.

In Bolivia, Germany supports the management of protected areas and buffer zones, the management of sustainable watersheds, sustainable irrigation projects, and innovative and sustainable production and commercialization systems, mainly in semi-arid areas; the EU focuses on promoting the production of corn, wheat, and potatoes, as well as strengthening the institutional capacity of the newly established agro-environmental and productive observatory (OAP); Italy invests in fish farming, animal husbandry and agriculture in the Integrated Development Program in the District of Ayopaya, Cochabamba; and Spain funds the implementation of "Desnutrición Cero" (Zero Undernourishment) national program.

In Kenya, Japan supports capacity-building programs for small-holder farmers and irrigation systems nation-wide, particularly in Mwea; Sweden works nation-wide to support the National Ag and Livestock Extension Program (NALEP), land reforms, financial services, marketing and value chains, and other environmental projects; Germany invests in irrigation development, rural infrastructure, farmer organization, value chain development, policy advice, and sector coordination in the western and central regions, as well in drought recovery and resilience in the northern and north-eastern regions; the U.S. focuses on improving agricultural productivity, including horticulture, dairy, and maize systems in high rainfall areas, as well as improving drought-tolerant crops, pulses, and horticulture in arid and semi-arid regions; and the EU funds research and information, drought management, input supply, and institutional support, especially in arid and semi-arid regions.

In Bangladesh, the U.S. invests in increasing on-farm productivity, increasing investments in market systems and value chains, improving food security policy and planning capacity, and enhancing agricultural innovation capacity in the poorest regions of the southern delta region; the U.K. sponsors the Chars Livelihood Program (CLP), which aims to improve the lives of over 67,000 households on the highly vulnerable island in the northwest region of Bangladesh through improved water, sanitation, and dwelling structures; Germany funds the Health, Population, and Nutrition Sector and Development (HPNSD) Program and rural infrastructure improvement throughout the country, especially in Rajshahi, Khulna, and Dhaka; Japan helps to strengthen technical institutions overseeing rural development, including development of rural community infrastructures, in the southwestern region; the E.U. provides assistance for post- cyclone reconstruction in areas most devastated by tropical storms, while their Food & Livelihoods program focuses on areas with high undernutrition and their School Feeding program focuses on areas of high vulnerability.

In Vietnam, France is upgrading and modernizing the management of the Bac Hung Hai irrigation and drainage system; Canada is investing in irrigation, as well as agricultural extension services, small-scale infrastructure to increase household dairy, rice and cattle production, and climate change resilience; and Japan is using a value-chain approach to improve irrigation management, transport infrastructure and the post-harvest production and marketing of agricultural products.

In Mozambique, the United Kingdom invests in land rights and the sustainable and equitable use of resources and in the Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor; Japan funds the improvement of transport infrastructure and research capacity for the Nacala Corridor, and implements agricultural development projects there under the Japan-Brazil- Mozambique Triangular Cooperation on the Tropical Savanna Agricultural Development Program, aiming to promote sustainable agricultural and rural development; local and Canadian partners have worked together to improve agricultural production through the dissemination of new technologies, the advancement of market linkages, the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, the strengthening of farmers' associations, and the enhancement of land management; Italy promotes commercial agro-livestock and local economic development in Manica and Sofala provinces by increasing income-generating opportunities for farmers’ families, and associations of producers, manufacturers and traders, improving the sustainable management of natural resources and strengthening the planning capacities of local authorities; and the United States concentrates investments in improved agricultural productivity (oilseeds, pulses, cashews and fruit) and nutrition.

Engaging Multilateral Institutions

The AFSI in-depth tables suggest that many AFSI donors are more likely to co-finance projects with development finance institutions like the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) than they are to co- implement programs with operational and technical agencies. This is not to say that the work of these technical and operational agencies is unsupported – in fact, for example, EU support to multilaterals is mainly through such channels. On the contrary, AFSI members contribute to and coordinate with the work of these technical and operational agencies, and are acting to improve upon their long-standing cooperation.

Strong cooperation between donors, recipient countries, multilateral institutions and civil society organizations paved the way for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). GAFSP, established as an element of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, is a multi-donor trust fund which reflects the five Rome Principles created to finance strategic, inclusive, evidence-based agricultural investment plans of low-income countries. While not the only new source of funding to come out of the AFSI commitments, GAFSP is a visible and transparent demonstration of the international community’s renewed commitment to agriculture and food security. The fund has demonstrated the ability to support and incentivize low-income countries, involve a broad range of stakeholders in the global challenge of food security, and employ an evidence-based approach in the allocation of resources and tracking of investments. As such, the fund has had a catalytic role and holds the potential to drive a transformational approach in development assistance in support of lasting improvements in food security at the country and regional levels.

Accountability and Transparency

The development of the in-depth tables and the efforts of the MfDR working group are indications of AFSI’s commitment to greater transparency and accountability. The in-depth tables show that AFSI donors are developing indicators to measure and report on progress at the country level (data on these indicators are still being collected), which will be a welcome complement to the evolving set of accountability assessment tools.

AFSI and the Global Food and Nutrition Security Agenda

AFSI has occupied a unique niche. Its founding mandate to focus on accountability and ensure follow-through on the commitments our leaders made has proven to have a catalytic effect on global attention to food and nutrition security. Its participation is more diverse than donor-only, beneficiary-only, or region-specific groups. The ability to feed the results of its work into the G-8 process has amplified AFSI’s reach and helps to bridge the technical and policy communities.

Together, AFSI donors have not only fully committed but gone beyond the original $22.24 billion pledge, and to date3, AFSI donors have disbursed 67 percent of the total pledge, well on their way to disbursing the full amount.

AFSI donors are making progress toward their non-financial commitments as well (essentially, the Rome Principles) and are, in a more coordinated way, supporting country-owned plans, spreading investments across a large number and geographic diversity of countries, and investing in a comprehensive suite of programs across the agricultural value chain and including research and development.

In 2012, AFSI donors extended reporting beyond what was reported in 2010 and 2011, to include country level information on each donor’s AFSI investments in agricultural development, and food and nutrition security, a major step forward in donor accountability, transparency, and coordination.

Launched as a result of AFSI, GAFSP, in many ways, embodies these commitments by financing strategic, inclusive, evidence-based agricultural investment plans of low-income countries in a transparent way and involving multiple stakeholders.

Even after we fully disburse our three-year financial pledges, the responsibility will persist “to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security.” The AFSI group will meet again under the United Kingdom’s chairmanship in the first half of 2013 to review progress and discuss its future.



1 The 26 countries and 14 multilateral organizations signatories of the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security – L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) --supported the Secretary General’s UN High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF) and its Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA) as a means to build on the comparative advantage of International Organizations and International Financial Institutions while enhancing their coordination and effectiveness.


3 As of December 14, 2012

4 The number of partner countries on which donors reported in- depth information was determined by the donor government itself, i.e., the term “significant”(please note that the term “significant” referred to here does not appear in the text -- the word used is “substantial”) was donor defined. Partner country investments reported in in-depth tables account for 40 percent of the total pledge for the countries that provided tables; multilateral and other aligned investments are also reported in the tables (under “Other”).

5 The AFSI in-depth tables can be found here:


7 Alston, J., C. Chan-Kang, M. Marra, P. Pardey, T. Wyatt, A Meta- Analysis of Rates of Return to Agricultural R&D: Ex Pede Herculem? IFPRI Research Report 113, Washington, DC, 2000.

Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.